Planned Parenthood Not Getting Women’s Full Consent For Organ Harvesting Program
Mollie Hemingway

Planned Parenthood responded to the release of an undercover video showing one of its executives discussing the harvesting of aborted baby organs with people posing as purchasers of said baby organs. In one press release, they claimed that mothers of aborted children sometimes want to donate their aborted babies’ “tissue” to help with research. Further, they claimed, they help women who want to donate their deceased children’s tissue:

In health care, patients sometimes want to donate tissue to scientific research that can help lead to medical breakthroughs, such as treatments and cures for serious diseases. Women at Planned Parenthood who have abortions are no different. At several of our health centers, we help patients who want to donate tissue for scientific research, and we do this just like every other high-quality health care provider does — with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards.

And yet Planned Parenthood executive Deborah Nucatola’s own words contradict the forms used by Planned Parenthood providers to procure consent from women seeking abortions. The full, brief, consent form can be seen here. It asks women to confirm seven statements, including:

I understand there will be no changes to how or when my abortion is done in order to get my blood or the tissue.

Doctors are required to sign that:

No substantive alteration in the timing of terminating the pregnancy or of the method used was made for the purpose of obtaining the tissue.

Federal law is more specific and stringent than the Planned Parenthood consent form (which could itself be a problem for Planned Parenthood):

The highlighted portion reads that there may be “no alteration of the timing, method, or procedures used to terminate the pregnancy was made solely for the purpose of obtaining the tissue.”

And yet Nucatola specifically discussed how to alter abortion methods for the purpose of procuring intact baby organs and baby heads. Here is a section of the transcript where they discuss the topic:

Buyer: We need liver and we prefer, you know, an actual liver, not a bunch of shredded up—
PP: Piece of liver.
Buyer: Yeah. Or especially brain is where it’s actually a big issue, hemispheres need to be intact, it’s a big deal with neural tissue and the progenitors, because those are particularly fragile. If you’ve got that in the back of your mind, if you’re aware of that, technically, how much of a difference can that actually make if you know kind of what’s expected or what we need, versus—
PP: It makes a huge difference. I’d say a lot of people want liver. And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps. The kind of rate-limiting step of the procedure is the calvarium, the head is basically the biggest part. Most of the other stuff can come out intact. It’s very rare to have a patient that doesn’t have enough dilation to evacuate all the other parts intact.
Buyer: To bring the body cavity out intact and all that?
PP: Exactly. So then you’re just kind of cognizant of where you put your graspers, you try to intentionally go above and below the thorax, so that, you know, we’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m going to basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact. And with the calvarium, in general, some people will actually try to change the presentation so that it’s not vertex, because when it’s vertex presentation, you never have enough dilation at the beginning of the case, unless you have real, huge amount of dilation to deliver an intact calvarium. So if you do it starting from the breech presentation, there’s dilation that happens as the case goes on, and often, the last, you can evacuate an intact calvarium at the end. So I mean there are certainly steps that can be taken to try to ensure
Buyer: So they can convert to breach, for example, at the start of the—
PP: Exactly, exactly. Under ultrasound guidance, they can just change the presentation.

She specifically says that “for that reason” (the reason being that buyers want intact organs), abortionists will do a procedure under guidance of an ultrasound, altering where they crush the body of the baby to ensure the organs come out in the most valuable way possible.

She also says that they deliver the baby intact and breach (feet first) because it causes the woman to dilate more by the time the largest part of the baby — his or her head — is coming out of the birth canal.

There are many interesting things about these admissions from Planned Parenthood executive Dr. Nucatola.

Planned Parenthood may try to argue that the presence of the ultrasound is not a “significant” change to the abortion method. But if they were to try using that argument, it would completely contradict everything Planned Parenthood has vociferously said against requiring them to use ultrasounds as part of the abortion process. When legislators pass bills requiring ultrasounds in abortion, Planned Parenthood has told us (five dozen times in one @ppact Twitter account) about how onerous and awful such requirements are.

Either the presence of ultrasounds is a significant change to abortion practices or it’s not. It doesn’t depend on whether you can harvest baby organs for sale to baby organ purchasers.

Still, it’s very telling that Planned Parenthood fights ultrasounds when they would enable all women to see the living child growing in their womb, but is totally in favor of them when protecting the valuable organs that can be harvested from said children.

The other change to the method that Nucatola describes — going from typical presentation of the child to delivering it feet first in the hope that the woman dilates enough to deliver the child’s head without needing to crush it to remove it from the mother’s womb — also alters “the timing, method, or procedures” of the abortion. Nucatola and other Planned Parenthood officials may try to argue that changing the abortion method to one mimicking some of the practices used in the partial-birth abortion procedure (once legally permitted to be used to kill unborn children) is not a big deal.

Nucatola specifically states, in fact, that these changes don’t violate the consent forms Planned Parenthood has mothers sign before their abortions. She interprets the laws guiding organ procurement broadly, saying that there would only be need for a new consent form if the “procedure may take an extra day, or I might be here extra hours.” Since changing the presentation or using ultrasounds doesn’t take extra days, she thinks she’s legally in the clear. Further, she doesn’t believe the woman who have signed the consent forms stating that there will be no changes to the procedure need to know how their abortion procedure will be changed to accommodate organ sales.

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter at @mzhemingway
Photo By Shutterstock
Photo By Shutterstock

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